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Jo, Zette & Jocko: Slapstick

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#1 · Posted: 24 May 2004 21:31
I’ve just been re-reading these books, and I have to say that I think they contain some of the best slap-stick comedy in all of Hergé’s work.

The whole sequence of interviewing the applicants to see if they can butler on roller-skates, and Mr. Pump having his meal off the conveyor-belt work beautifully in my opinion, and the idea of the servant ’phoning him from the top of the chute to his car is so ridiculously silly, that it actually makes the following crash and death quite affecting.

I also like the mad professor being beaten trying to show off his robot, while having to contend with Jocko playing with the controls, and then making it even worse for himself when he lobs the brick.

My feeling is that, free from the constraints of reality which gradually gained dominance in the Tintin stories, Hergé was able in Jo and Zette to set an idea in motion, and then follow it to whatever conclusion he saw fit, without worrying about whether or not it was plausible (so, for example, Jocko can overcome gangs of baddies with rocks, sticks and far more cunning than the humans show, so long as it a) moves the story along, and b) is reasonably funny.

Does anyone else think the slap-stick works?
#2 · Posted: 24 May 2004 21:44
Am in the process of producing a website dedicated to Jo, Zette and Jocko and I heartily agree with you about the slapstick.

As it was aimed for a younger audience where silly things are much better appreciated it really works, just to say though you've missed out the beginning sections of Valley of the Cobras, pure hilarity especially when the Maharajah ends up getting a beating from Mr Legrand.

Anyone know of any JZ&J websites available in English or will mine be the only one?

Trivia Challenge Score Keeper
#3 · Posted: 24 May 2004 22:07
I thoroughly enjoy Jo, Zette and Jocko and their strongest moments are some of Hergé's finest work. For my money, "Valley of the Cobras" is the best, with humour, suspense, action and of course the superb draughtmanship from Hergé's peak period that makes it a worthy companion to the more well-known Tintin adventures. I find it more entrenched in reality than the other four books, though the Stratoship duology is more believable than "The Secret Ray". It's a same that "The Secret Ray" isn't more readily available in English but those of us with a copy can enjoy the fantastic elements of sheer science fiction that Hergé arguably wouldn't explore again fully until "Flight 714".
Belgium Correspondent
#4 · Posted: 24 May 2004 22:17
"Anyone know of any JZ&J websites available in English or will mine be the only one?"

I don't know any JZ&J website in English and even in French. You'll be the first in the world !! Please let us know when you are ready !
#5 · Posted: 24 May 2004 22:40
It's just about ready (not finished but as a work in progress), I'm trying to find a free webhost that won't put a banner on my site, I don't mind popups but banners are messing the cool design up

#6 · Posted: 24 May 2004 22:57
I wonder if the “Secret Ray” was released specifically aimed at collectors, like the B&W “Congo”? It contains some now terribly unfortnate depictions of the native islanders, so perhaps it was thought okay to give it a limited hard-back outing, but not to have it adopted into the standard collection of JZ&J in English.

My copy is printed oddly - it has the illustrated end-paper only at the back, not the front, and there are about four unprinted pages at the start (although one of these has very faint signs of the orginal French “Rayon” title on it at the bottom). There are no publication dates, nothing about who translated it (although MT&LL-C said it was them), and nothing to say who the publisher is. Was this a mistake or are all copies like this? I bought mine cheap at the Sloan Square Tintin Shop when it was still going, so perhaps that was the reason it was marked down.

Good luck with the JZ&J web-site, jockosjungle!
Trivia Challenge Score Keeper
#7 · Posted: 24 May 2004 23:04
That does sound like a defective copy of "The Secret Ray". I don't have my copy with me so I can't compare, but the first few pages consist of an introduction to the story and characters by Benoit Peeters, and several examples of the cover illustrations when it was serialised in Le Petit Vingtième and Tintin magazine. If your copy doesn't include these I guess they were added after the actual story was formatted into the book's design. It was indeed LL-C and MT who translated, and it was published by Sundancer, though I can't remember the year. There weren't many printed and there aren't many around now, so I guess it was intended as simply a limited collector's edition.
#8 · Posted: 24 May 2004 23:13
Yeh sounds like a defective copy of The Secret Ray to me there Jock!

I love my Secret Ray, it's a great edition with a nice page introduction and original artwork from it's serialisation. Looks like you have a bad print, my Rayon title page is full color copy from Le Petit Vingtieme.

It was published in 1994 in the UK

I don't think the race was the reason rather than it's limited appeal, plenty of racism in the more modern tintin books. Interestingly (i found this out at greenwich) the reason why Tintin books stopped containing so much racism was because US publishers didn't like the idea of white people working alongside Black people (hence crews on ships are almost exclusively white)

Here's a link to Jocko's Jungle, not finished but the info under the BOOKS section is all there


Quite a lot of info on all five books, mostly that i've researched myself.

Let me know what you all think

#9 · Posted: 25 May 2004 07:37
I’m not sure I follow your line of reasoning there, Rik.

The fact that the American market was thought to be unable to accept images of black and white people together, leading to frames being re-drawn (for example, Alan Thompson losing a black crew-man, and gaining a Puerto Rican), is surely overt racism, not a lessening of it?

The reason that the books become less racist as they go on, if anything is due to Hergé not actually being a racist: he merely started out naïvely as a product of his times, using the stereotypes which were acceptable in their days.

His natural sympathies being more liberal, and his inclination being to promote harmony and support the victims of the world, he gradually dropped the stereotypes. Why he didn’t take the opportunity to eliminate them as books were revised I don’t know.

I’d also suggest that as the depiction of the natives on the island is even more extreme (to my eyes) than the way the Congolese people are drawn in “Congo” – which has held back that book in the UK – that the “Secret Ray” might be thought to be a difficult property here. I have to say I have sympathy with that notion: I find that part of it an uneasy read.

As for the actual narrative, I think it has great appeal: it amounts to a plot that wouldn’t be out of place in a James Bond movie (gadgets, robots, under-water madmen in huge secret bases, amphibious-tank battles etc.). I can’t see that side of things being the reason for not making the book(s) more widely available.

And, yes, I guess I got a bad copy!!
#10 · Posted: 25 May 2004 09:29
I think Jo, Zette & Jocko are hugely underrated (though not here, I'm pleased to see) and agree with Ed, Valley of the Cobras is indeed excellent. I love the whole sequence with the Maharaja and the snowballs, it's just perfect and hilarious. A definite relative of Abdullah.

My copy of The Secret Ray is on its way to me as I type, so can't comment on that yet.

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